What happens to unused ‘flexible spending’ funds?

Many companies have flexible spending accounts that allow employees to pay health care and dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollars. The biggest drawback to these accounts is that they’re “use it or lose it” – so if employees put money into an FSA and don’t spend all of it on qualified expenses during that calendar year, they forfeit the remainder.

So what happens to the money they forfeit?

The short answer is that the business can simply keep it. However, if a business wants to ease the burden on employees and make the FSA a more attractive benefit, there are several other options allowed under the tax laws: [Read more…]

Many computer ‘hacks’ are actually low-tech thefts

All businesses are scared these days of having their data stolen by highly sophisticated foreign computer experts – and yet a surprisingly large number of “hacks” are actually very low-tech affairs, carried out by people with minimal computer skills. The good news is that some simple measures can reduce the risk.

According to a study by the Ponemon Institute, the vast majority of CEOs view sophisticated intentional hacking as the biggest data security problem they face. The vast majority of IT managers, on the other hand, see the biggest threat as careless employees who haven’t received basic security training about phishing, passwords, cloud access, and the like.

To take one example, you might have heard that a St. Louis Cardinals baseball team employee was recently sentenced to jail for hacking into the computer secrets of a rival team, the Houston Astros. But you might not know exactly how he did it.

[Read more…]

Federal penalties are increasing dramatically

The maximum penalties that can be imposed on businesses by federal agencies are being dramatically increased, as a result of a new law passed by Congress.

OSHA’s civil penalties hadn’t increased since 1990, but that changed on August 1, 2016, when they jumped roughly 80%. The top penalty for a serious OSHA violation went from $7,000 to $12,471, and the top penalty for a willful or repeated violation went from $70,000 to $124,709.

What’s more, if an employer was inspected before August 1, but OSHA didn’t issue a citation until after August 1, OSHA can issue a penalty at the new higher rate. Since OSHA has six months from the date of a violation to issue a citation, it’s expected that a lot of companies that were inspected in the first part of 2016 will see large penalties assessed after August 1. [Read more…]

New law protects trade secrets

President Obama has signed a new federal law that expands the ability of companies to sue when someone steals or misuses a trade secret.

The law also contains new requirements for employment contracts that refer to trade secrets – which means that many such agreements should now be revised.

The “Defend Trade Secrets Act,” or DTSA, will change the legal landscape by making misuse of trade secrets a federal issue, comparable to patent, trademark and copyright infringement.

[Read more…]

What Happen if my Trustee could not perform the duties due to illness, and what happen if she die.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

My husband past away on last end of year. he pointed 2 persons for successor trustees. one of them already past away 7 years ago. and the estate attorney filed pleadings to appoint other one to be my trustee. Now, I have a question, my trustee has serious health condition ( heart disease) and she could not perform any duties. (basically I have to do everything for her) so I would like to know if in this situation what should I do? in the future if she die what can I do ? there has no other trustee on my husbands will and I am only beneficiary.

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS BELIVEAU:

This is a common situation. Trustees routinely resign, die or become unable to perform the function as Trustee. The Trust will have provisions spelling out how a new Trustee can be appointed. Your attorney can prepare the paperwork for the transition of Trustee.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate planning attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Waltham, Massachusetts; and Salem, New Hampshire.

Does a beneficiary of an IRA payable upon death amount satisfies an amount designated to be left from an estate in a will?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

In Massachusetts, My dad left his IRA payable upon death to my brother and myself 50/50. His will states $50,000 for each of us. His IRA is not in the will. His cousin gets what’s left over from estate. Does the fact he left us money in his IRA satisfies the will’s listed amount or is that from the sale of his house? The financial advisor says the IRA is a contract and has nothing to do with the will. The cousin disagrees and states as executor that it does satisfies the will so he ends up keeping the house. Who is correct?

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS BELIVEAU:

The IRA is not subject to the probate estate. It passes outside of the control of the Will. The personal representative cannot ignore the terms of the will. Occasionally a Will is written where it references non-probate assets and sets out a formula based on what the beneficiaries receive out side of probate. For instance, he could have written, if my son receives $50,000 from my IRA, then he will receive nothing from my probate estate. If your father’s Will simply states, $50,000 to each of my children and the balance to my cousin, then you are to receive $50,000 each. You need to hire an attorney to represent you as beneficiaries if your cousin is refusing to follow the terms of the Will. If the personal representative deeds the house to himself in contradiction to the Will, he could be creating a title problem, which is very costly to fix.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate administration attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for probate, estate administration, and trust administration. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Waltham, Massachusetts; and Salem, New Hampshire.

 

Am I still obligated to pay?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

My mother has had 2 strokes within the past year. The 2nd stroke was severe enough that my mother needed to be placed in a long term/nursing facility. According to the admissions person at the nursing facility, my mother’s 100 days of Medicare ended 9/15/16. Mom was Medicaid eligible as of 7/1/16. The nursing facility sent a bill for the resident responsibility for the entire month of September. Since Medicare coverage was until 9/15/16 and Medicaid took over on 9/16/16, is my mother responsible for the entire resident payment amount for September? She has recently passed away. Am I still responsible for the funds?

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS BELIVEAU:

While Medicare covers 100 days, it does not cover the entire bill for the 100 days. After 20 days, the patient is responsible for a 20% co-pay. After 40 days, the patient is responsible for a 40% co-pay, and it continues that way every 20 days. It appears that there is a gap in the coverage for your mother. The start date requested for Medicaid should have been when the first co-pay started. A call to the facility is in order to straighten out exactly for what it is billing, and be sure to point out the Medicaid start date. If you used a company to file for Medicaid, be sure to contact the company as well.

Your mother’s estate is responsible for payment of the bills. You could be responsible if you signed her admission papers individually and not in the capacity of her health care agent or power of attorney.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The elder law attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Waltham, Massachusetts; and Salem, New Hampshire.

 

Is it necessary to have a will if you have beneficiaries on everything?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Beneficiaries are on everything.

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS BELIVEAU:

Assets with beneficiary designations typically avoid probate. Occasionally things go awry if a beneficiary predeceases you and alternates are not named. The account could end up going to a person you don’t want, a minor, or the deceased person’s probate estate. Owning property jointly with another is risky because the joint owner has total access to the account. This means that the joint owner’s creditors can reach your assets.

A will is also helpful for other reasons as well. You wishes on your burial can be spelled out in a will. Also, you do own other assets that aren’t in bank accounts. The will spells out who will inherit the tangible personal property. The executor is responsible for filing your last tax return and has the assets to pay it. If you use designations, the people in possession will be responsible for pay the tax. Each one is wholly liable for the tax, so if one beneficiary does not pay his or her share because they have spent the money, the IRS does not have to go after the person who spent the money. The IRS will go after the person with the deepest pockets.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate planning attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Waltham, Massachusetts; and Salem, New Hampshire.

How should I disperse savings of a deceased sibling of whom I was the guardian

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

My brother passed away recently I was his Guardian he has money in the bank with my name as representative what should I do with the money he told me to split it up amongst the siblings and Dad can I do this legally

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS BELIVEAU:

Your representative payee and guardian status ended upon your brother’s death. The bank account will need to be probated. The assets will be distributed according to your brother’s will, if he had one, otherwise it will be governed by the state’s intestacy statute.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate administration attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for probate, estate administration, and trust administration. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Waltham, Massachusetts; and Salem, New Hampshire.

If a house is forclosed by the bank during probate is the PR and others named in the Will be liable or responsible for any unpaid

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I am the PR or executor of my mothers will. I entered into probate as there is a house to consider in the mix. I am no longer able to make payments and thought I would have time before forclosure but did not. Will I and my siblings be liable for any part of the unpaid mortgage? will it affect our credit?

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS BELIVEAU:

Only the estate is responsible for mortgage payments. There will be no effect to the credit scores of the beneficiaries or the personal representative (or executor).
The Personal Representative is responsible for preventing waste of the assets. If there are no other assets to pay the mortgage and PR made reasonable efforts to prevent the home going into foreclosure, then the PR will not be held to have breached his fiduciary duty.
You may wish to consult with a real estate attorney to see if the foreclosure sale can be stopped so that you can sell the home yourself. Typically you will get a much higher value for the home if you sell it yourself and you avoid having to pay for the legal expenses of the bank.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate administration attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for probate, estate administration, and trust administration. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Waltham, Massachusetts; and Salem, New Hampshire.